Conservation Groups Welcome the Return of the Grizzly to the North Cascades

The National Park Service and U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service have decided to actively restore grizzly bears to the North Cascades of Washington, where the animals once roamed.

Press Contacts:

Jacqueline Covey, Defenders of Wildlife, 630-427-7164   

Caitlyn Burford, National Parks Conservation Association, 541-371-6452  

Andrea Wolf-Buck, Conservation Northwest, 206-970-1430

WASHINGTON D.C. – The Friends of the North Cascades Grizzly Bear coalition welcomes the long-awaited framework for grizzly bear restoration in the North Cascade Ecosystem with the final record of decision released today. The plan is the culmination of decades-long efforts to return this iconic species to their historic homelands.

The decision follows the National Park Service (NPS) and U.S. Fish and Wildlife’s (USFWS) Grizzly Bear Restoration Plan and final environmental impact statement released last month.

“The Upper Skagit celebrates this decision for the great bear, the environment, and everyone who desires a return to a healthy Indigenous ecosystem,” said Scott Schuyler, policy representative for the Upper Skagit Tribe. “We urge the agencies to move forward and put paws on the ground so the recovery may begin.”

Federal agencies completed a thorough, multi-year process to evaluate options for safely restoring and managing grizzlies in this region where they once thrived. NPS and USFWS are moving forward with a “nonessential experimental population” designation that would allow the agencies to flexibly manage the bears within a designated area per section 10(j) of the Endangered Species Act.

“The restoration plan is based on more than thirty years of research, learning, and hard work,” said Gordon Congdon, retired Wenatchee Orchardist. “The plan directly addresses the concerns of local people, private landowners, and local communities by providing flexible management tools that will reduce human-bear conflict and lead to the recovery of this magnificent species”.

Under this plan, a small number of bears will be translocated from a healthy source population into the North Cascades over several years until there is an established population of about 25 bears.

“This is the start of another great comeback story. These alpine gardeners of the North Cascades, once on the brink of extinction, are now poised to reclaim their historic home range. The plants, animals, and people of this region will benefit from their return,” said Jasmine Minbashian, executive director of the Methow Valley Citizens Council.

Recognized as one of the most rugged mountain ranges in the country, the North Cascades spans over 9,500 square miles of mostly protected public lands in Washington State, standing as one of North America’s premier intact ecosystems with ideal habitat for grizzly bears.

Although grizzlies have been listed as “threatened” under the Endangered Species Act since 1975, and the North Cascades were identified in 1997 as having sufficient quality habitat to support a healthy grizzly population, grizzly restoration plans stalled for decades.

When a similar review process began in 2015, it received overwhelming public approval, followed by the most recent review process in 2023.

For more information on the plan for North Cascades grizzly bear recovery from the Friends of the North Cascades Grizzly Bear, visit

“We applaud the National Park Service and the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service for deciding to actively restore grizzly bears to North Cascades,” said Susan Holmes, executive director of the Endangered Species Coalition. “As a keystone species, grizzly bears play an important role in the ecology of their habitat, and we are excited for their pending return to a place where they have too long been absent.”

“Today we celebrate our national parks as places where wildlife thrives and ecosystems are made whole,” said Theresa Pierno, president and CEO of the National Parks Conservation Association. “For years, NPCA has worked tirelessly to bring grizzlies back to their historic homeland. The return of the grizzly bear to North Cascades National Park is a symbol of the power of perseverance.”

“The grizzly bear is a critical part of the ecological and cultural fabric of the North Cascades. They belong here. Without them, our wild areas are diminished, less diverse, and sanitized. The narrative about Cascades grizzly bear recovery will take decades to unfold. But with science, education, and a little human tolerance, it can be one of the greatest conservation success stories of ours and future generations,” said Joe Scott, international program director for Conservation Northwest.

Organizational Quotes: 

“The process to chart a course for North Cascades Ecosystem grizzly bear recovery has been long and exhaustive. Federal agencies have gone above and beyond, working closely with grizzly bear experts on recovery plan foundations, alternatives, and actions. The science is clear on the viability of the North Cascades habitat for securing a future for grizzly bears without significant impacts to people and their ability to live and recreate in such a vast ecosystem.” – Joe Scott, Conservation Northwest International Director 

“This is an exciting day for grizzly bear recovery and an important step for restoring the North Cascades Ecosystem. We congratulate the National Park Service and U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service for their decision to reintroduce grizzly bears and recognize the tireless work of so many who have led us to this momentous day.”– Colin Reynolds, Senior Advisor, Northwest Program – Defenders of Wildlife  

“Today marks a triumph for park wildlife with grizzly bears returning home to North Cascades National Park. The decision to restore the grizzly bear is a testament to America’s courage to give one of our wildest animals the freedom to rebound. For years, NPCA has worked to bring back the grizzly to the rugged alpine meadows they roamed for thousands of years. It’s proof that when we come together with a resounding call for conservation, we can do extraordinary things.”– Theresa Pierno, President and CEO of the National Parks Conservation Association 

“The zoo is excited to bring its expertise in human-wildlife coexistence to this next phase of the recovery process as we prepare to once again share the wild North Cascades Ecosystem with grizzly bears.” –Paula MacKay, Carnivore Conservation Specialist, Woodland Park Zoo 


About Friends of the North Cascades Grizzly Bear: Friends of the North Cascades Grizzly Bear is an independent partnership supporting the restoration of a healthy and functioning grizzly bear population in the North Cascades Ecosystem. Supportive resolutions, testimonials, frequently asked questions, resources and helpful links, bear safety information, and more are available on our website. More than two dozen Supporting Organizations and Businesses and over 2,500 Supporting Individuals have signed

on as Friends of the North Cascades Grizzly Bear. Steering Committee organizations for this collaborative effort include Conservation Northwest, the National Parks Conservation Association, Woodland Park Zoo, Defenders of Wildlife, Northwest Trek Wildlife Park, and the National Wildlife Federation.

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